A general's touch: AFP Chief inspires mom to raise son as airman

Published August 8, 2021, 1:03 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Long before Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), he has already inspired various people from all walks of life, including a mother who went on to raise the child in her womb as a member of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) just because of a few kind words and a soft pat on her bulging baby bump from the general more than two decades ago.

An old photo of Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Chief of Staff of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), then a young military officer, with the mother of 2nd Lt. Phierry Shylle Fontanar (middle) at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City about 23 years ago. (Courtesy of Ranatnof Srop Tatski)

2nd Lt. Phierry Shylle Fontanar’s mom, who goes by the name Ranatnof Srop Tatski on Facebook, took to social media how she met Faustino, then a young officer, at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City 23 years ago.

According to Fontanar’s mom, she was at the PMA for a tour when Faustino approached and exchanged pleasantries with her. She was pregnant at the time and Faustino lightly tapped her tummy as he told her: “Sana ma’am maging PMAer siya (I hope ma’am that he becomes a PMAer).” She then responded, “Sana (I hope so).”

“Today, I happened to read from a news that there is a new military officer appointed as the Chief of Staff by the president. He is Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. The name sounds familiar to me because it was actually the name of the man in uniform who tapped my tummy 23 years ago and made that wish for my baby boy,” Fontanar’s mom said in a Facebook post last July 30.

The baby inside her womb turned out to be Phierry Shylle, who is now a 2nd Lieutenant officer at the PAF, and a graduate of the PMA “MASIDLAWIN” Class of 2020.

2nd Lt. Phierry Shylle Fontanar, Philippine Air Force (Courtesy of Ranatnof Srop Tatski)

“Maybe others would say it is just a coincidence. But for me, I believe in the power of words. It maybe just a pure plain wish, however, [it] influenced the journey of my son. For after 22 yrs, my son has become a military, a member of Philippine Air Force who graduated from the same academy, PMA, where I met the officer,” she said.

Faustino was named as the new AFP Chief on July 30, replacing now retired Gen. Cirilito Sobejana. Faustino officially took oath as the 56th AFP Chief last July 31.

Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines (Courtesy of AFP Public Affairs Office)

Fontanar’s mom extended gratitude to Faustino for his kind gestures to her during a chance encounter over two decades ago. He also wished Faustino good luck in leading the AFP.

“For your beautiful words, I am forever grateful to you, Sir!” she said.

The official Facebook page of the AFP reposted the social media post of Fontanar’s mom on Saturday, August 7, which immediately garnered more than 900 reactions and dozens of shares.

Faustino will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 years old for military personnel on Nov. 12, 2021.